How much fun is it that players are at camp and Barry Zito and Matt Harvey are both throwing the ball? And, that knowing in a couple of weeks the first spring match-ups will take place? Meaning all these mock drafts will fall by the wayside, in deference to our actual drafts and auctions?
If you are like me, you have been doing a bunch of mocks, which again, is a really great exercise for several reasons. First, it gives you a feel for the player pool at large. Second, it gives you a feel for how others might value players, especially the players you like.
However, it is possible to fall under a false sense of security by going through those motions, so let me offer a few thoughts to keep us all grounded.
Pooh pooh on value. As we keep hammering, value means nothing: it is potential, and the player's ability to realize that potential that matters. Furthermore, once the draft, or especially auction begins, all those ADP numbers fly out the window like a New Year's Resolution to go to the gym four times a week. Focus on what a reasonable cost for the potential you hope your players and team will produce. But, it is a team you are obtaining, and there are a zillion combinations that can become a winner in just about any format and configuration. So, stay fluid.
Win the league, not the draft. One of the things that kills me about drafts is coming out of them being happy because you have a top projected team. Well, unless you are Larry Schechter--who is better disciplined in pricing, but then drafting to support those projections than anyone else--post-draft rankings mean nothing. In fact, personally, the lower I am in those league projections, the happier I am. That is because the teams with the higher production tend to dismiss us crappy teams. Either way, the objective is to be in first in October, not March.
Do your best to disrupt your opponents. We all have players we covet, and players we eschew, and a lot of the time our league-mates know not just who we like, but what we like to do. So, mix it up. Change paths and draft or nominate or purchase players at strategic times to force the hand of your opponents. It might mess your league-mates up, and that means an advantage for you.
Never nominate a player you are not willing to roster. These last couple of thoughts work in concert with the disruption of your fellow owners. But, we all can get too clever sometimes, and try and not overthink a player or strategy. Throwing others off is one thing, but thinking you can outsmart 11 other guys on a regular basis by nominating Robinson Chirinos for $10, knowing someone will bid $11, really means you are going to hear crickets. Meaning you better be sure you targeted $10 for a catcher slot, and that you are cool with the Texas backstop.
Take advantage of what the others give you. Invariably during the draft, Alex Gordon will still be out there in Round 11, or Lorenzo Cain (and 25-plus steals) will be available for $3. Grab them. Never let a bargain pass, no matter how you feel about a player. That is, even if you hate Cain, imagine trying to scrounge up 15 swipes in August via trade or FAAB, and how easy that might be.